Youth Leadership

Youth Leadership Program

Youth Leadership is a ground work experiential learning program focusing on cooperation, relationship-building, self-esteem and more. It’s learning, without realizing you’re learning.

  • The client works directly with a horse partner and a volunteer mentor under the guidance of the program facilitator and a horse co-facilitator.
  • The client participates in a variety of activities with their horse partner (e.g. interacting with the horse to achieve a result such as moving in a specific direction without the aid of tools or props, observing herd behaviour and dynamics, long reining as part of a group).

As co-facilitators, the horses guide and support. It’s all about choices. That’s our ultimate goal: having participants make the choices and evaluate those choices in the end.

Youth leadership is for participants:

  • Youth 8-17 years old
  • Youth who would benefit from an increase in self-confidence, self-awareness, social skills, empathy etc.
  • Youth identified as at-risk of developing unhealthy relationships and/or behaviours
  • Risk factors include: excessive unstructured/sedentary time, discrimination and isolation, lack of mental health supports, coping and life skills

Protective factors addressed:

  • Development of leadership skills
  • Development of life and coping skills that make youth feel successful
  • Sense of mental well-being
  • High social competence and strong sense of identity

Youth Leadership Benefits (as reported by participating youth):

  • Increased impulse control
  • Increased awareness of how their choices affect others
  • An increase in resistance skill


  • Each Youth Leadership session runs for ten weeks. PARDS runs three sessions throughout the season and many clients continue on through multiple sessions. Please refer to our Calendar or contact our office for exact start and end dates.
  • Each lesson is offered in a group format
  • PARDS accepts registration throughout the year for all programs
  • Fees are due prior to applicant participating in the first lesson unless an alternate payment schedule has been approved by administration

Key activities include:

  • All of the activities are carried out on the ground. No horseback riding is involved.
  • Strengths Building: identifying their own strengths, and the strengths of others around them
  • Conflict Resolution: recognizing how they deal with conflict, the emotions they feel
  • Cooperation and Teamwork: together, the clients ground drive a horse to help them understand how, working together, they can reach a shared goal
  • Overcoming Challenges: identifying how they personally deal with the challenges in their lives and identify positive ways to cope and deal with those and other challenges
  • Body Language and Non-Verbal Communication: the clients observe herd behaviour to identify how they can communicate more effectively, and what the effect is of our body language on others
  • Boundaries: we use the horse to demonstrate personal boundaries and why it is important to respect them
  • Goal Setting: for each activity the youth set themselves and the group a goal, we then relate this back to life outside of PARDS and why goal setting can be important.

Clothing Requirements

In order to participate in a lesson, each participant must wear:

  • An ASTM/SEI certified riding helmetRiding boots or close toed shoes with a small 1 inch heelLong PantsNo sleeveless or revealing tops
  • PARDS has a supply of riding helmets and boots if the client does not have their own equipment. We recommend dressing appropriately for the weather; in colder months we keep the indoor arena at 5C. For safety reasons, please do not wear loose or bulky clothing as they may catch on equipment. Please ensure clothing is comfortable and well fitted.


PARDS is incredibly fortunate to already partner with some wonderful organizations within our community. We have existing partnerships, and receive referrals from; Crime Prevention – Youth Intervention and Diversion Program, Grande Prairie Friendship Center, Catholic Family Services, PACE, 3 schools with in the Public District and 2 schools within the Separate School District, and Alberta Health Services.

Program  sponsored in part by:


The Youth Leadership Program is sponsored in part by City of Grande Prairie FCSS and EnCana Corporation. This sponsorship subsidizes the cost of registrations for ALL participants.

  • Registration fee of $150 per session (after subsidy).
  • An annual membership fee per participant is required. Annual memberships cover the participant for unlimited programs and sessions.
  • PARDS memberships are valid from January 1 through December 31.

It is important to PARDS that everyone is able to access our services regardless of financial circumstance. If you are experiencing difficulty meeting the registration fee requirements, please contact the office for more information at 780-538-3211. Additional information, including proof of financial need, may be required.

Online Registration

Register and pay online for any PARDS program using the link below:

Register Now